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Boston people seek help for bomb grief

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Boston is a tough city that has vowed to overcome the deadly bomb attacks this week, but like every place struck by terrorism, the scars cannot be hidden forever.

There are defiant messages like "Stay Strong Boston" written among the wreaths left at a shrine on Boylston Street, where the two bombs tore through crowds on Monday. Boston icons such as actors Ben Affleck and Mark Walhberg have expressed their disgust at the attack.

But there has also been a steady stream of people turning up at help centers organized by city authorities.

Thousands have turned out for vigils in churches and parks, and many will be anxiously looking for the message of healing that President Barack Obama was to bring to the city on Thursday.

Many who witnessed the destruction that left three dead and about 180 injured, 10 of whom are still in critical condition, say it will take time to come to terms with what they lived through.

"I approached the sidewalk on Boylston Street, and just saw carnage like a warzone," said sports journalist Steve Silva.

There were "pools of blood, people with blood all over their faces, people with body parts that had been dismembered," he added.

"I haven't really had time to process it all. It will probably all start sinking in over the next couple of days."

The Boston Public Health Commission set up walk-in centers where those affected can seek counselling. Clinical social worker Howard Brown volunteered to help on his day off.

"There's trauma people have been presented with," he told AFP. People suffer from anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability.

"I think as it begins to sink in, they become hypersensitive to the environment, sometimes sound, interactions with other people."

The need to discuss their grief can also be seen at the many vigils held in the city since the bombs.

More than 1,000 people turned up at a candle-light ceremony near the home of eight-year-old Martin Richard, one of the three dead. Hundreds stayed in the park for more than an hour after to discuss events.

There was standing-room only at the city's historic Arlington Street Church not far from the scene of the bombing where a special service was held Tuesday night.

The word religion comes from the Latin meaning "to bind," said one of the Arlington Street Church ministers Catie Scudera.

"We had to bind together again after this horrible incident that really has wounded our community here in Boston," she said.

"And I think people turn to religion because they know it's a place where you can start to make sense of what's happening in your life."

Boston University has also started special counselling for its 30,000 students.

One Chinese student, Lu Lingzi, was among the dead. One of her friends was badly injured and several student volunteers at the marathon were caught in the devastating aftermath of the bombs.

For many who survived life will never be the same again. At least 12 people caught in the blast had one or both of their legs blown off.

Steve Chamberland has sought to reassure them that there can be a new life.

Chamberland, 41, lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident in 1999 but has since pursued a career as a one-legged wrestler and running a nonprofit called 50 Legs that helps amputees buy prosthetics.

He received a call this week from a friend Dale Maybury, who told him his nephew, Jeff Bauman, lost both legs in the blasts. Bauman has no health insurance, and Chamberland immediately offered to buy the legs.

"I'm a pretty rugged guy," Maybury told the Boston Globe. But he said he cried when he received Chamberland's message.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130418/boston-people-seek-help-bomb-grief